I was reminded this week how long I have actually been back, as my visa ran out. But then, on reflection, 3 months isn’t a great deal of time at all, but these will live long in my memory. The benefit of completing 90 days in China is that I had an excuse to go to Hong Kong (and my excuse I mean I had to by ‘law’).
Basically that’s where my week started. Early on the Tuesday morning I woke and packed my bag for a day trip to Hong Kong. If, at my graduation ceremony, I had been told that I would have 5 trips to Hong Kong in the next 10 months I would never have believed that person…which makes me feel even more privileged that I have been able to go there, including for Christmas (although I have counted two visits to the airport, perhaps that’s being a bit naughty). However, this time was not quite as adventurous as Christmas day (particularly as I was not intending to stay up all night to see the sunrise over the harbour, ohh Christmas :P). Instead it was more for passport validation reasons. I hoped onto the coach bound for Shenzhen at about 9am, of course it was scheduled to leave at 8:30. And this meant I arrived at Shenzhen customs at around 11:30 where I was able to pass into Hong Kong in the hope that they would allow me back into the Mainland again. It would have been perfectly legitimate for me to turn around and head straight back through passport control, but I decided against it for two reasons. One, this may be my last opportunity to see Hong Kong and I wanted to take it in one last time. and two, I would looked like a nutter going through one set of customs only to swap lanes and go back the way I came…something Mr Bean might do/have done (is he still about?). As a result, I continued on my journey via coach to Mong Kok in the centre of Kowloon. Quite handily I was armed with my free copy of the Hong Kong map and decided to explore the lesser known streets by foot in the 4 hours I had to spare in Hong Kong, but only after I had an egg tart…naturally.
After exploring a different area of Kowloon (but admittedly not off the beaten track….its Hong Kong) I inevitably found myself on Nathan Road. it was then that I decided to find the Jade Market that alluded us on Boxing Day, and it was difficult to see why as its bloody big. unfortunately it decided to rain, but fortunately the Jade Market is indoors. I came to the conclusion that I needed to buy some jade before I left so ended up buying a bracelet which makes me look slightly more like a homosexual…but who cares in Hong Kong eh!
Feeling quite nostalgic I decided to have one last ferry ride to Hong Kong Island and back and then sat outside for a pint before attempting to navigate my way back to Pitt Street in Kowloon for my coach return to Shenzhen. Thus, in the four hours that I spent in Hong Kong I had an egg tart, felt the rain, bought some jade, took a ferry and had a pint; clearly not for thrill seekers, but I was satisfied with my 4 hours. Until! As I queued for customs and re-entry to China I felt a throbbing on my nose, and as I felt it was clear I was bringing back an unwelcome guest…the Lump! fortunately the man at customs acknowledged me as the person in my passport despite having a nose swollen twice the size, and I was allowed back into China. fortunately the lump reduced at a rate quicker than normal and I did not look so deformed by the time I arrived back in Foshan…although I later realised he was just sleeping.
When I got back I went to the Chinese restaurant near Danny’s apartment where I met Cameron, Heather and Danny…by chance. We sat and ate nice bits of beef, eggplant and toothpick lamb before someone (probably Cameron) suggested we head to a bar. This was a new bar to me and it was immediately obvious that the girls who worked there had been told to leach onto any foreigner that walks in. As soon as we were inside we were offered dances, given drinks and were joined at our table by about 6 dancers from the bar. I think Heather may have felt a little awkward, but so did me and Danny. For some reason Cameron fell for it and appeared to fall in love with one of the dancers. We were all quite amused if not a little uncomfortable with the celebrity treatment. That was until someone pointed out the lump appearing below my eye…it was back! However, instead of on my nose or my eyelid it was now below my eye and by the morning it looked as though I had been in a fight. This time, I managed to avoid Danny and her hot rod of incense and get some antihistamine to reduce it. I have come to some kind of conclusion that the lump may be caused by certain types of beer…but I don’t want to confirm this.
Thankfully my Wednesday lessons were cancelled due to the kindergarten graduation ceremony rehearsals. I spent the day in with Danny and Joe. Joe is her nephew who is staying with us and who Danny claims to like more than Momo (her daughter). She keeps telling me how much stronger Joe is than me…which is just insulting :P. This meant that thursday was my next day of note. Since I shall be returning home in a couple of months I have become increasingly aware, and embarrassed, about how limited my spoken Chinese is. In all fairness, I am fascinated by everything Chinese and nothing more so than the language…its incredible. Therefore myself and Cameron have recruited a chinese tutor for a few lessons (who knows if it will do any good). Our first lesson was on Thursday and it was pretty basic stuff From the lesson I realised that my vocabulary is not as bad as I thought it was, but my grasp of the dreaded ‘tones’ is worse than terrible…in this respect I am actually tone death. I will improve though! After our lesson we offered to take Alice (our tutor) for dinner and practise some of the language. Dinner then turned into bowling…for some strange reason. We ended up playing three games of bowling and winning one each, speaking Engish the whole way through. A cheap lesson had turned into a rather expensive night.
On the friday Joe and Danny left for a weekend in Macau and Hong Kong. Which gave me the chance to have some peace and quiet…an oppurtunity never seem capable of taking advantage of. Instead, Judy, one of the mothers from my old kindergarten, text me to say her power had been cut in her apartment. She ended up coming to mine for the day, where I intended to take her bowling (given the fun I had the day before). She wasn’t so keen. As we were about to settle down for a meal I was asked to come into my old work to meet the foreign teacher who would be replacing me and talk him through the role. This mans name is Darren and it turns out he is VERY Irish, a matter of concern when he asked the Chinese children if they were ‘tirsty (=thirsty)’. I had a good chat with him whilst I left Judy downstairs with some chicken wings. I didn’t chat for long though as there weren’t many chicken wings for my guest…
Once Judy had returned home I met up with Cameron for some food in Little Italy, not before getting myself very lost where it is impossible to do so. The owner has an incredible memory for names and remembered us both as we returned. We ended up having pizza and drinking a couple of beers with the owner before meeting a few mates back at peasants. I must admit that I was a little disappointed with the night as there didn’t seem much point to it…I woke up the next day with my KFC warm milk turned cold…I must’ve been tired to fall asleep before finishing my KFC warm milk.
Sundays have become dominated by one thing…football! I love playing or watching it in China. Every week we have a different Chinese opposition and this week were a tricky bunch. They were clearly much fitter than us and were nippy little things. Thankfully we were able to clinch victory by means of the ‘next goal wins rule’. Our team had a new addition this week, and American named Dusty (who wanted to play Soccer ball). Before the game he asked how to kick the ball, which was reassuring. But he started in goal and appeared to have the quickest reactions of anyone in the world think Kung Fu Panda! As it turns out Dusty is a martial artist and when he came out onto the pitch he karate kicked the ball whenever he got it….great for the neutrals. Orne we finished our game we plastered our blisters, wrang out our shirts and ate some fried rice before hitting the sack and getting ready for the week ahead!